Smart Devices

Watch What You Say Around Your TV, Samsung Warns

Watch What You Say Around Your TV, Samsung Warns
Image credit: Olaf Meyer | Flickr
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Lest you think Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and others who worry that artificial intelligence could become, well, too intelligent are crazy and paranoid, allow us to offer Exhibit A in their defense.

Deep within the privacy policy for Samsung’s SmartTV -- an Internet-connected device that users can control with voice commands -- is the following sentence: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

As the Daily Beast first reported, “it seems Samsung is collecting voice commands mostly to improve the TV’s performance.”  Even with innocuous intentions, it seems disturbing -- and very 1984 --  that your television can listen to you when you’re not directly talking to it. It listens if you’re in the room when on the phone with your bank straightening out a bill, for example. And not only does it listen, but it reports what it hears to “a third party.”  As Corynne McSherry, the intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Beast, “If I were the customer, I might like to know who that third party was, and I’d definitely like to know whether my words were being transmitted in a secure form.”

Related: Smart Devices Are the Cause of Distracted Driving -- But They're Also the Solution

Samsung released a statement following the article that said, in part, “Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously. In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use.”

If the Ministry of Truth says so, it must be true. Just remember, “WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

Related: Next Plan for Google Glass? Start Over.

 
 
Edition: December 2016

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